Let’s face it – not only is Mean Girls a cinematic masterpiece, it’s actually filled with some pretty great life lessons.
Not surprisingly, one can also learn a lot about startup PR from this gem. Whether you’re getting ready to launch, thinking about generating some new buzz around your startup or just mentally preparing yourself to talk to the media (it’s scary, we get it), here are five valuable lessons that Mean Girls can teach you about surviving the press.
1. Stop Trying to Make Fetch Happen
Here’s the thing about pitching the media – no journalist wants to see a bunch of buzzwords! It doesn’t matter if your product is set to disrupt the industry like never before or that your explainer video went viral overnight. And guess what – chances are your product is not the first of its kind. The real trick to selling your story is to tell it like it is. Focus on the problem-solution. Offer unique data. Brevity is key. Dressing your pitch up with buzzwords is a one-way ticket to crickets.
2. Know That Culture is Something to Celebrate
Fewer journalists are covering launch news these days and even funding announcements aren’t the easiest sell. Launching a new app? So are hundreds of other startups. The world of startup PR isn’t getting easier, it’s getting harder, which is why it’s more important than ever for startups to have a great story to tell when they’re setting out to pitch the media. Start with the elements of your startup that are worth celebrating. Got a great culture? Be known for it. Are you giving back to the community while changing the world? Share it. Want to attract the attention of a journalist? Tell a story for humans, not bots. People want to hear about the exciting things other people are doing. Culture is huge.
3. Don’t Pick Favorites
Yes, it’s totally helpful to offer media outlets (especially tech outlets) a promo code or free stuff to giveaway to their readers when you launch, but don’t pick favourites. So often we see promo codes reserved exclusively for TechCrunch or Mashable (the Glen Coco’s of tech outlets) while other equally awesome outlets are left out. Instead of offering exclusive promo codes, create a promo code that can be shared on all outlets and used by everyone. You can still limit the number of codes available, but you’re giving everyone an equal opportunity to get in on the fun.
4. Know What You Are and Aren’t
It’s really easy for a startup to want to be all the things, but I’d caution against it. “We’re the next Facebook for social networking and Foursquare for check-ins and we’re also simultaneously changing the way we use our smartphones with technology,” is not only confusing, it’s exhausting. While the “X for Y” approach works, identify the best way to position yourself and stick to it. Make sure that it’s obvious across the board too. Does your website content reflect this position? What about your social? Same rules apply when you’re positioning yourself as a thought leader or industry expert – hone in on one area of expertise before positioning yourself as a jack of all trades.
5. It’s a Jungle Out There
Whether you’re a seasoned PR pro or it’s your first time, reaching out to journalists can be as scary as navigating a high school cafeteria on the first day of school. How will you survive? By reminding yourself that rejection happens to the best of us. Some writers may just ignore you, others will be mean to you. We’ve all been there, myself included, and survived. But you know what? Some journalists will be awesome and it’ll be the start of a great relationship. Keep your head high, be cool and trust in your story. I promise you’ll make a friend or two along the way.
Just avoid people wearing pink on Wednesdays.
Got a great lesson you’ve learnt from a favorite movie? Let us know below!